Telling your children that their parents are splitting is one of the hardest conversations you may ever have. No parent tells their children the same way, and no child reacts the same way. It’s hard to know exactly what to say when you’re separating or divorcing, but there are a few common guidelines. PopSugar shared these five tips:
Be proactive. Tell your kids early on in the process. Waiting to tell them won’t make things any easier. You definitely don’t want your child hearing about it from another family member or friend before you tell them. And if they suspect that you are divorcing and you haven’t told them, it can really hurt their trust in you. But if you tell them upfront, they may come to you in the future and expect you to be just as honest with them- a good sign of their trust in you.
Be honest. Don’t try too hard to sugar coat it, and be ready to answer the tough questions. You should assure them that the situation is only between you and your spouse, and you both love them very much. If you try to stretch the truth or lie, your children will probably know. Remember that they probably know you better than almost anyone else in the world.
…But not too honest. There is no need to share every single detail with your children. You can be honest without sharing things that will probably scar them for the rest of their lives. Especially if your children are younger, they may not fully understand the dynamics of a relationship, and there is no need to tell them more than they are mature enough to hear. You can keep the explanation simple while still being honest.
Reassure them again and again. Children will often feel vulnerable and scared. Telling them once that things won’t change too much and you’ll both still love them won’t be enough. Remind them many, many times. And then tell them — every day if you need to. Be compassionate to how they must feel and empathetic toward their situation. And always remind them that the divorce is in no way their fault.
Seek counseling for your children. Many times children feel they can’t be honest with how they’re feeling because they don’t want to take sides in a divorce. That’s why a counselor can be extremely helpful to them throughout the divorce process. Suppressing their feelings is very unhealthy, and they need a neutral person to talk to. It’s been said that everyone has a reason for counseling at all stages of life, and this is definitely one of the more challenging times for many children.